Running Time: 2 hours, 13 minutes
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is the first spin-off into the Star Wars expanded universe. This is a new story with an almost entirely new cast of characters that fills the time gap between episodes III and IV. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards, who is best known for directing 2014's "Godzilla." It stars a tremendous cast including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Forrest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, and Alan Tudyk.
"Rogue One" tells the story of how the rebels acquired the plans to help them destroy the Death Star. It revolves around Jyn Erso, played by Jones, who is the daughter of Imperial engineer Galen Erso, played by Mikkelsen. He is a key figure in the development of the Empire's super weapon. He also secretly supports the Alliance and sends a pilot, played by Ahmed, attempting to defect with a message for militant separatist Saw Garrera, played by Whitaker. Though Ahmed, Mikkelsen and Whitaker don't get a whole lot of screen time, they are excellent when they gets the chance. Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are equally as captivating as Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor.
"Rogue One" sure as hell puts the war in "Star Wars" and is simply amazing, and not just for fans of the franchise as a whole. This story contains some breathtakingly brilliant visuals with some of the best visual effects we have seen implemented in any film to date. In addition to its stunning look, the movie takes audiences on a roller coaster of emotions from sorrow, to laughter, to pure elation, and even a little hope thrown in for good measure. It fits in seamlessly with episode IV, including a few cameos from familiar characters, particularly the universe's most bad ass villain Darth Vader, again voiced by James Earl Jones. Vader finally gets a scene that truly displays the awesome fear and brutality of his character as we've never seen before. The battle scenes are epic, some of the best ever depicted in a Star Wars movie. "Rogue One" also serves to add layers to the Alliance and shows that not everything they do is perfectly moral. They have assassins and spies and are willing to do immoral things in the fight for what they believe is the greater good.
Though we believe "Rogue One" is a movie for Star Wars fans first, it's never too late to get invested. This film can actually be seen as both: it is a good starting point for beginners, and seasoned vets of the series will get the many references and ties to other movies in the franchise. This is the prequel we have always wanted and have been waiting for. It really serves to show what potential was wasted in episodes I, II, and III. Though some scenes are elongated for dramatic emphasis and there could have been a teensy bit more character development here and there, "Rogue One" is damn incredible.
My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!